To inform readers about the candidates seeking their votes on the May 1 ballot, the San Antonio Report asked all City Council and mayoral candidates to respond to a brief questionnaire. Only candidates who responded are listed below. Some responses were edited slightly for clarity, and we did not fact-check responses.

See more Q&As with candidates in the May election here.

Quick navigation: Chris Baecker | Melissa Cabello Havrda | Robert Hernandez

Chris Baecker

Age 49, accountant in the energy industry and economics instructor at Northwest Vista College. San Antonio resident for 21 years.

List any previous experience in government or participation on local boards, commissions, or neighborhood associations.

I tied for a spot on the board of our HoA last year, but lost on a coin flip.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as a council member?

 I want to prevent the city government from a) intruding into the private sector, b) commandeering the resources of the minority to redistribute to others, c) distorting the efficiency of the marketplace. Basically, stop the city from impeding community prosperity.

Do you support the proposition to change city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works?

No.

Do you believe there is a need for policing reform in San Antonio?

I would like to explore what effect qualified immunity has on policing in San Antonio.

How do you see the concept of “equity” applying to a City Council member’s job?

I believe discrimination has no place in this day and age, except for senior/child discounts, up-front parking for expectant mothers, etc. No one should be judged based on their race, sex, orientation, religion or the like. It is most important that we are all 100% free to live our lives as we choose. To the extent that local government arrogates to itself the income of its citizens, and until such actions are rectified, the resultant “revenues” should be (re)distributed equally to all.

Melissa Cabello Havrda

Age 46, District 6 City Council member and attorney. Native San Antonian.

List any previous experience in government or participation on local boards, commissions, or neighborhood associations.

While in college I worked as a council aide to former Mayor Ed Garza, then after that at the Parks Foundation under Mayor Emeritus Lila Cockrell. I’m an alumna of Leadership San Antonio Class 42 and the inaugural Latina Leadership Institute with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I’ve served on multiple boards, including Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Magik Theatre, and UTHSC Center for Aging. I’m a longtime member of my HOA, Estonia.

What are the top priorities you would like to address as a council member?

I firmly believe in representative government, so my priority is to always listen to the needs of my constituents and hold myself accountable to them. The most common needs I hear from my constituents include traffic solutions, infrastructure improvements, and park improvements. District 6 is the fastest growing district in the city, so these items are a priority as we continue to see increased growth. I want to facilitate rehabilitation and new construction incentives for housing, assist first responders in reducing response times, create walkable neighborhoods with parks, and offer high-quality infrastructure and technology options. 

Do you support the proposition to change city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works?

Yes, because of the fast growth in my district and indeed the whole city, we have a shortage of affordable housing. Freeing our bond dollars will allow us to alleviate this issue citywide. 

Do you believe there is a need for policing reform in San Antonio?

As the chair of Public Safety and Municipal Courts I work with our law enforcement and municipal court system to ensure protection and due process for those detained and officer protections. There are changes needed, especially in the area of mental health. I’ve advocated for increased mental health training for our officers and partnering with our health and human resources to assist on calls where their skills can assist the community. 

How do you see the concept of “equity” applying to a City Council member’s job?

Equity for all our San Antonians is an issue I am passionate about, especially as a disability attorney. It is not easy to level the playing field, but we can continue to chip away at the processes that exclude some San Antonians from transportation, jobs, grants, and opportunity. Everyone should have all resources available to ensure prosperity for our citizens and our city. This will create opportunities for future generations to positively change the course of their lives and those of their families.  

Robert Hernandez

Age 39, employed by a local nonprofit in the housing department. Native San Antonian.

List any previous experience in government or participation on local boards, commissions, or neighborhood associations.

I have served on several housing work groups through my employment. 

What are the top priorities you would like to address as a council member?

My top priorities are COVID-19 pandemic recovery, housing, and Infrastructure. 

  • Would like to see the city offer small business loans so businesses that had to close during the pandemic can reopen. 
  • Also make sure vaccines are available to our most vulnerable citizens through a vaccine registry and mobile vaccine labs. 
  • Advocate for a healthier community. Better access to greenways/parks and address food insecurities throughout the community.

Housing

  • San Antonio is growing fast. We need to find ways to expand our local affordable housing inventory. 
  • In regards to homelessness I would connect the city with a local nonprofit to target our most needy citizens with services. Advocate for a true housing-first program in the city.  
  • Also try to get more set aside vouchers for our elderly population. 

Infrastructure

  • Look at our public transportation system to see how we can create a better system. San Antonio is one of the fastest-growing cities and we must keep up with transportation needs.  We cannot wait for five years down the road. We must work now on this issue. 
  • Advocate for citywide Wi-Fi broadband to help bridge the digital divide. 
  • Sidewalks and street repairs on the inner West side of District 6.

Do you support the proposition to change city charter language and expand the use of bond money beyond public works?

Yes, I do support Prop A. I like the idea of having more flexibility on bond issues. Bonds would still have to be approved by ballots.

Do you believe there is a need for policing reform in San Antonio?

Yes, I believe SAPD needs reforms but I am against Prop B. I believe SAPD officer have the right to collectively bargain for health care and wages but not for officer discipline. I would like more training for SAPD officers to include mental health situations, culture training and training. I would also advocate for more mental health officers. 

How do you see the concept of “equity” applying to a City Council member’s job?

The concept of “equity” for a city council member is to make sure their constituents have the same opportunities that others have: the ability to walk down sidewalks and have access to the internet, to make sure they have access to healthy options in food and activities, to know that there is always an open door to speak to their elected officials. 

San Antonio Report Staff

San Antonio Report Staff

This article was assembled by various members of the San Antonio Report staff.